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Just Listen
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About the Author

Sarah Dessen is the author of thirteen novels, which include the New York Times bestsellers The Moon and More, What Happened to Goodbye, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby. Her first two books, That Summer and Someone Like You, were made into the movie How to Deal.

Dessen's books are frequently chosen for the Teens' Top Ten list and the list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. They have been translated into twenty-five languages. Sarah Dessen is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult division of the American Library Association. Sarah Dessen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with highest honors in creative writing. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine. Visit Sarah at sarahdessen.com.

Reviews

Annabel Greene, who narrates, lives with her gorgeous sisters in a glass house designed by their architect father, in Dessen's (This Lullaby) familiar suburb of Lakeview. Predictably, the surface perfection masks trouble. Oldest sister Kirsten, "the family powder keg," has left for New York. When middle sister Whitney follows to pursue a modeling career, the two clash, and Whitney returns home with a full-blown eating disorder. Their mother, Grace, operates in what Annabel wryly calls the "default Greene family mode," pretending everything is just fine. Annabel, who inherited this trait, nevertheless begins her junior year as a pariah. Flashbacks reveal that her unwanted status is the result of something that happened with the boyfriend of her ex-best friend, a vicious girl who believes "everyone had a place and it was her job to make sure you knew yours." What moves this story beyond problem novel fare is Dessen's nuanced characters, especially hulking Owen, another outcast who, in befriending Annabel, reminds her not to judge by appearances, while steeping her in his eclectic musical tastes. Annabel sharply observes everyone's blinders, including most of her own-with one disturbing exception. The heroine paints her problem as social ostracism, when really the situation is much more serious. But since Annabel "[doesn't] do confrontations," she swallows the truth until her attacker victimizes someone else. Comparisons to Melinda, the heroine of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, are inevitable. Dessen packs a lot into this novel, perhaps too much; but Annabel and Owen's finely limned connection alone gives this novel staying power. Ages 12-up (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Gr 9 Up-Annabel Greene seemingly had everything: cool friends, close family, good grades, and a part-time modeling career in town. But it all came crashing down, and Annabel has spent the summer in shaky, self-imposed exile. She finds herself dreading the new school term and facing, well, everyone again. The last thing she wants to do is revisit old friendships-while the losses are painful, the secrets behind the rifts are almost unbearable. Her solid family seems fragile, too. What happened to cause the stiff silences and palpable resentments between her two older sisters? Why is no one in her loving but determinedly cheerful family talking about her middle sister's eating disorder? Annabel's devastating secret is revealed in bits and snatches, as readers see her go to amazing lengths to avoid confrontation. Caught between wanting to protect her family and her own struggles to face a devastating experience, Annabel finds comfort in an unlikely friendship with the school's most notorious loner. Owen has his own issues with anger, but has learned to control it and helps her realize the dangers of holding in her emotions. Dessen explores the interior and exterior lives of her characters and shows their flaws, humanity, struggles, and incremental successes. This is young adult fiction at its best, delving into the minds of complex, believable teens, bringing them to life, and making readers want to know more about them with each turn of the page.-Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

This is young adult fiction at its best ...

uSchool Library Journal Dessen weaves a sometimes funny, mostly emotional, and very satisfying story. VOYA

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